Daily Express

Pereira’s hole of Chile con carnage


- By Neil McLeman

LIKE JeanVan deVelde’s Open in 1999, the 2022 US PGA will not be remembered for the winner.

Justin Thomas beat Will Zalatoris in a three-hole playoff to claim his second Major victory.

But Mito Pereira’s painful meltdown at the 72nd hole in Tulsa made the second Major of the year so memorable.

The Chilean world No.100 began the last day with a threeshot advantage and still led by one after 71 holes.

A par four at the closing hole would have given the rookie victory on his US PGA debut.

What followed was captured in the penultimat­e edition of Netflix’s Full Swing series, aptly entitled Golf Is Hard.

With Pereira on the 18th tee alongside Matt Fitzpatric­k, an American fan shouted: “Biggest shot of your life, let’s do it.” But nerves meant the 27-year-old failed to complete his swing and his drive found a creek. He said to his Australian caddie Scott McGuinness: “Water! I f***ed up. On the last hole, man.” Pereira’s game then unravelled in a slow-motion car crash, much like Frenchman Van

I may still be on PGA Tour if it had gone my way

de Velde’s did on the final hole at Carnoustie 23 years earlier.

He took a drop but missed the green before chipping through the putting surface and scrambling a double-bogey six at Southern Hills.

As Thomas equalled the Major record by coming from seven shots back to win, Pereira had to make do with a tie for third.

But he looked shell-shocked later, saying: “I wish I could do it again.”

Pereira joined LIV in February and unless he finishes in the top 15 at Oak Hill this weekend he is unlikely to return in 2024.

LIV golfers are banned from the PGA Tour and with no world ranking points awarded for the Saudibacke­d league, the world No.56 will fall out of the top 100.

Eighteen LIV golfers, including Pereira, will tee it up at Oak Hill on Thursday. LIV’s latest event was held in Tulsa last weekend and Pereira finished joint 30th.

He banked $3.7million in his first five events – the same as in his brief PGA Tour career. His Torque team, led by his pal Joaquin Niemann, won the second LIV event of 2023. Cam Smith joined LIV after winning The Open last year. So, would Pereira have left the PGA Tour if he had triumphed at the US PGA?

“If things would not have gone that way, Joaquin leaving, I think that I would still be here,” he said.

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 ?? ?? AGONY & ECSTASY: Pereira left to despair as Thomas, inset, wins
AGONY & ECSTASY: Pereira left to despair as Thomas, inset, wins

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